This story is set in what is now known as Bangladesh during the closing months of 1971. It is about the love of a mother for her children and for her country that is struggling to be born.
When Rehana is first widowed, she doesn't seem to have the strength of character or the determination to raise her children. The love for her children helps her find a way to recover her children from her brother-in-law and to bring them into adulthood. Throughout the course of the war, she again finds abilities and strengths she never suspected were within her. Not only does she manage to support her own children, but at the same time she becomes a 'mother figure' to many of the Bengali forces.
There are many ways that Rehana could have coped during the war. She could have 'stuck her head in the sand' like her long time neighbour, Mrs Chowdhury, or she could have run away like her tenant Mrs. Sungupta, but she didn't take an easy option, she chose to stay and fight for her children and her country in any way she could.
I found this a very emotional story. The love a mother holds for her children is no small thing. I can understand how Rehana would do 'anything' for the love of her children.
Winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book.
Thanks to Harper Collins for the cover picture.
Also reviewed at
Maphead's Book Blog.